One of the keys to becoming a better person, whether as a leader, business owner, HVACR professional, a friend or family member, a neighbor, or any other role you play, is to learn and grow. One of my favorite ways to do this is by reading and listening to the experiences of others.
In his book, “Leadership is an Art,” Max DePree wrote, “The first responsibility of the leader is to define reality. The last is to say thank you. In between the two, the leader must become a servant.”
He discusses the art of leadership throughout the book and the aura of servant leadership in creating a legacy.
Legacy does not have to radically change the world; rather, it can progressively change the world for just one person or a handful of people.
Leaving a legacy is making a difference. One of the ways you can make that difference is to be a servant leader. Serve your team. It does not mean that you have to let your technicians and installers walk all over you. It means that every person is shown value. You lead by example, you mentor, listen and observe.
At Champion AC, being purpose-driven is one of the most important elements to key in on in servant leadership. While each of our team members has their own personal mission, from Sarah, our operations manager, to Gerry, our install specialist, we all have a greater purpose we work toward as a company and as a team.
We believe in strengthening our community through involvement in strategic areas where we can make a positive impact, because we know that Champion AC is about more than simply installing air conditioners — we are about serving to make an impact.
A few key things I determine to do each day to be a servant leader include:
Empower team members to lead and serve. Do you allow your technicians, managers and team to make decisions that would enhance their confidence? Do you allow them to make executive decisions without needing to check in with you on every little thing?
If you provide great training and instill immense confidence in your team members, both you and each of them should feel comfortable with the decisions they make in any kind of on-the-job situation.
Listen and apply. Eliminate the idea that you always have to be right. If you’re doing things right in your business, you should hire people who are smarter than you. You can be smart at many things, but hiring people who are smarter is not a bad idea. But then, you have to listen. Listen to their ideas and feedback. Listen to the technicians who are out in the field making repairs and installs every day.
And then, you have to apply. This will change your business for the better and it will make your team members feel appreciated that their feedback was taken to heart and is now improving the business.
Let your team know they are appreciated, collectively and individually. Serve your team by paying attention to these things. Serve with gratitude. A study by career site glassdoor.com showed that 80 percent of employees said they were motivated to work harder when their boss showed appreciation for work.
Not only will you show the characteristics of a servant leader, you’ll increase the drive and productivity of your team. You’ll most likely also see a spike in the appreciation that is shown around your office — between technicians, managers, specialists and receptions — and most definitely, there will be a spike in the respect and gratitude shown to customers in the field.
Be cognizant of the way you treat your employees, listen to the things they have to say and generate an environment that works toward a purpose greater than you and the collective team around you.
This will be a piece of your legacy — whether it’s a legacy for your team members you employ, the customers you serve or the greater community beyond. Leave a legacy of leadership.